December 24, 2009


Jane Galt ( is a self proclaimed libertarian who has some interesting comments about the social institution of marriage. The post is long but worth to be read in full:

Jane Galt:
Unlike most libertarians, I don't have an opinion on gay marriage, and I'm not going to have an opinion no matter how much you bait me. However, I had an interesting discussion last night with another libertarian about it, which devolved into an argument about a certain kind of liberal/libertarian argument about gay marriage that I find really unconvincing.
Social conservatives of a more moderate stripe are essentially saying that marriage is an ancient institution, which has been carefully selected for throughout human history. It is a bedrock of our society; if it is destroyed, we will all be much worse off. (See what happened to the inner cities between 1960 and 1990 if you do not believe this.) For some reason, marriage always and everywhere, in every culture we know about, is between a man and a woman; this seems to be an important feature of the institution. We should not go mucking around and changing this extremely important institution, because if we make a bad change, the institution will fall apart.
A very common response to this is essentially to mock this as ridiculous. "Why on earth would it make any difference to me whether gay people are getting married? Why would that change my behavior as a heterosexual"
To which social conservatives reply that institutions have a number of complex ways in which they fulfill their roles, and one of the very important ways in which the institution of marriage perpetuates itself is by creating a romantic vision of oneself in marriage that is intrinsically tied into expressing one's masculinity or femininity in relation to a person of the opposite sex; stepping into an explicitly gendered role. This may not be true of every single marriage, and indeed undoubtedly it is untrue in some cases. But it is true of the culture-wide institution. By changing the explicitly gendered nature of marriage we might be accidentally cutting away something that turns out to be a crucial underpinning.
To which, again, the other side replies "That's ridiculous! I would never change my willingness to get married based on whether or not gay people were getting married!"
Now, economists hear this sort of argument all the time. "That's ridiculous! I would never start working fewer hours because my taxes went up!" This ignores the fact that you may not be the marginal case. The marginal case may be some consultant who just can't justify sacrificing valuable leisure for a new project when he's only making 60 cents on the dollar. The result will nonetheless be the same: less economic activity. Similarly, you--highly educated, firmly socialised, upper middle class you--may not be the marginal marriage candidate; it may be some high school dropout in Tuscaloosa. That doesn't mean that the institution of marriage won't be weakened in America just the same.
This should not be taken as an endorsement of the idea that gay marriage will weaken the current institution. I can tell a plausible story where it does; I can tell a plausible story where it doesn't. I have no idea which one is true. That is why I have no opinion on gay marriage, and am not planning to develop one. Marriage is a big institution; too big for me to feel I have a successful handle on it.
However, I am bothered by this specific argument, which I have heard over and over from the people I know who favor gay marriage laws. I mean, literally over and over; when they get into arguments, they just repeat it, again and again. "I will get married even if marriage is expanded to include gay people; I cannot imagine anyone up and deciding not to get married because gay people are getting married; therefore, the whole idea is ridiculous and bigoted."
They may well be right. Nonetheless, libertarians should know better. The limits of your imagination are not the limits of reality. Every government programme that libertarians have argued against has been defended at its inception with exactly this argument.
Let me take three major legal innovations, one of them general, two specific to marriage.
The first, the general one, is well known to most hard-core libertarians, but let me reprise it anyway. When the income tax was initially being debated, there was a suggestion to put in a mandatory cap; I believe the level was 10 percent.
Don't be ridiculous, the Senator's colleagues told him. Americans would never allow an income tax rate as high as ten percent. They would revolt! It is an outrage to even suggest it!
Many actually fought the cap on the grounds that it would encourage taxes to grow too high, towards the cap. The American people, they asserted, could be well counted on to keep income taxes in the range of a few percentage points.
Now, I'm not a tax-crazy libertarian; I don't expect you to be horrified that we have income taxes higher than ten percent, as I'm not. But the point is that the Senators were completely right--at that time. However, the existence of the income tax allowed for a slow creep that eroded the American resistance to income taxation. External changes--from the Great Depression, to the technical ability to manage withholding rather than lump payments, also facilitated the rise, but they could not have without a cultural sea change in feelings about taxation. That "ridiculous" cap would have done a much, much better job holding down tax rates than the culture these Senators erroneously relied upon. Changing the law can, and does, change the culture of the thing regulated.
Another example is welfare. To sketch a brief history of welfare, it emerged in the nineteenth century as "Widows and orphans pensions", which were paid by the state to destitute families whose breadwinner had passed away. They were often not available to blacks; they were never available to unwed mothers. Though public services expanded in the first half of the twentieth century, that mentality was very much the same: public services were about supporting unfortunate families, not unwed mothers. Unwed mothers could not, in most cases, obtain welfare; they were not allowed in public housing (which was supposed to be--and was--a way station for young, struggling families on the way to homeownership, not a permanent abode); they were otherwise discriminated against by social services. The help you could expect from society was a home for wayward girls, in which you would give birth and then put the baby up for adoption.
The description of public housing in the fifties is shocking to anyone who's spent any time in modern public housing. Big item on the agenda at the tenant's meeting: housewives, don't shake your dustcloths out of the windows--other wives don't want your dirt in their apartment! Men, if you wear heavy work boots, please don't walk on the lawns until you can change into lighter shoes, as it damages the grass! (Descriptions taken from the invaluable book, The Inheritance, about the transition of the white working class from Democrat to Republican.) Needless to say, if those same housing projects could today find a majority of tenants who reliably dusted, or worked, they would be thrilled.
Public housing was, in short, a place full of functioning families.
Now, in the late fifties, a debate began over whether to extend benefits to the unmarried. It was unfair to stigmatise unwed mothers. Why shouldn't they be able to avail themselves of the benefits available to other citizens? The brutal societal prejudice against illegitimacy was old fashioned, bigoted, irrational.
But if you give unmarried mothers money, said the critics, you will get more unmarried mothers.
Ridiculous, said the proponents of the change. Being an unmarried mother is a brutal, thankless task. What kind of idiot would have a baby out of wedlock just because the state was willing to give her paltry welfare benefits?
People do all sorts of idiotic things, said the critics. If you pay for something, you usually get more of it.
C'mon said the activists. That's just silly. I just can't imagine anyone deciding to get pregnant out of wedlock simply because there are welfare benefits available.
Of course, change didn't happen overnight. But the marginal cases did have children out of wedlock, which made it more acceptable for the next marginal case to do so. Meanwhile, women who wanted to get married essentially found themselves in competition for young men with women who were willing to have sex, and bear children, without forcing the men to take any responsibility. This is a pretty attractive proposition for most young men. So despite the fact that the sixties brought us the biggest advance in birth control ever, illegitimacy exploded. In the early 1960s, a black illegitimacy rate of roughly 25 percent caused Daniel Patrick Moynihan to write a tract warning of a crisis in "the negro family" (a tract for which he was eviscerated by many of those selfsame activists.)
By 1990, that rate was over 70 percent. This, despite the fact that the inner city, where the illegitimacy problem was biggest, only accounts for a fraction of the black population.
But in that inner city, marriage had been destroyed. It had literally ceased to exist in any meaningful way. Possibly one of the most moving moments in Jason de Parle's absolutely wonderful book, American Dream, which follows three welfare mothers through welfare reform, is when he reveals that none of these three women, all in their late thirties, had ever been to a wedding.
Marriage matters. It is better for the kids; it is better for the adults raising those kids; and it is better for the childless people in the communities where those kids and adults live. Marriage reduces poverty, improves kids outcomes in all measurable ways, makes men live longer and both spouses happier. Marriage, it turns out, is an incredibly important institution. It also turns out to be a lot more fragile than we thought back then. It looked, to those extremely smart and well-meaning welfare reformers, practically unshakeable; the idea that it could be undone by something as simple as enabling women to have children without husbands, seemed ludicrous. Its cultural underpinnings were far too firm. Why would a woman choose such a hard road? It seemed self-evident that the only unwed mothers claiming benefits would be the ones pushed there by terrible circumstance.
This argument is compelling and logical. I would never become an unwed welfare mother, even if benefits were a great deal higher than they are now. It seems crazy to even suggest that one would bear a child out of wedlock for $567 a month. Indeed, to this day, I find the reformist side much more persuasive than the conservative side, except for one thing, which is that the conservatives turned out to be right. In fact, they turned out to be even more right than they suspected; they were predicting upticks in illegitimacy that were much more modest than what actually occurred--they expected marriage rates to suffer, not collapse.
How did people go so badly wrong? Well, to start with, they fell into the basic fallacy that economists are so well acquainted with: they thought about themselves instead of the marginal case. For another, they completely failed to realise that each additional illegitimate birth would, in effect, slightly destigmatise the next one. They assigned men very little agency, failing to predict that women willing to forgo marriage would essentially become unwelcome competition for women who weren't, and that as the numbers changed, that competition might push the marriage market towards unwelcome outcomes. They failed to foresee the confounding effect that the birth control pill would have on sexual mores.
But I think the core problems are two. The first is that they looked only at individuals, and took institutions as a given. That is, they looked at all the cultural pressure to marry, and assumed that that would be a countervailing force powerful enough to overcome the new financial incentives for out-of-wedlock births. They failed to see the institution as dynamic. It wasn't a simple matter of two forces: cultural pressure to marry, financial freedom not to, arrayed against each other; those forces had a complex interplay, and when you changed one, you changed the other.
The second is that they didn't assign any cultural reason for, or value to, the stigma on illegitimacy. They saw it as an outmoded vestige of a repressive Victorial values system, based on an unnatural fear of sexuality. But the stigma attached to unwed motherhood has quite logical, and important, foundations: having a child without a husband is bad for children, and bad for mothers, and thus bad for the rest of us. So our culture made it very costly for the mother to do. Lower the cost, and you raise the incidence. As an economist would say, incentives matter.
(Now, I am not arguing in favor of stigmatising unwed mothers the way the Victorians did. I'm just pointing out that the stigma did not exist merely, as many mid-century reformers seem to have believed, because of some dark Freudian excesses on the part of our ancestors.)
But all the reformers saw was the terrible pain--and it was terrible--inflicted on unwed mothers. They saw the terrible unfairness--and it was terribly unfair--of punishing the mother, and not the father. They saw the inherent injustice--and need I add, it was indeed unjust--of treating American citizens differently because of their marital status.
But as G.K. Chesterton points out, people who don't see the use of a social institution are the last people who should be allowed to reform it:
In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, "I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away." To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: "If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it."
This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious. There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease. But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution. If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, that they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer served. But if he simply stares at the thing as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion.
Now, of course, this can turn into a sort of precautionary principle that prevents reform from ever happening. That would be bad; all sorts of things need changing all the time, because society and our environment change. But as a matter of principle, it is probably a bad idea to let someone go mucking around with social arrangements, such as the way we treat unwed parenthood, if their idea about that institution is that "it just growed". You don't have to be a rock-ribbed conservative to recognise that there is something of an evolutionary process in society: institutional features are not necessarily the best possible arrangement, but they have been selected for a certain amount of fitness.
It might also be, of course, that the feature is what evolutionary biologists call a spandrel. It's a term taken from architecture; spandrels are the pretty little spaces between vaulted arches. They are not designed for; they are a useless, but pretty, side effect of the physical properties of arches. In evolutionary biology, spandrel is some feature which is not selected for, but appears as a byproduct of other traits that are selected for. Belly buttons are a neat place to put piercings, but they're not there because of that; they're a byproduct of mammalian reproduction.
However, and architect will be happy to tell you that if you try to rip out the spandrel, you might easily bring down the building.
The third example I'll give is of changes to the marriage laws, specifically the radical relaxation of divorce statutes during the twentieth century.
Divorce, in the nineteenth century, was unbelievably hard to get. It took years, was expensive, and required proving that your spouse had abandoned you for an extended period with no financial support; was (if male) not merely discreetly dallying but flagrantly carrying on; or was not just belting you one now and again when you got mouthy, but routinely pummeling you within an inch of your life. After you got divorced, you were a pariah in all but the largest cities. If you were a desperately wronged woman you might change your name, taking your maiden name as your first name and continuing to use your husband's last name to indicate that you expected to continue living as if you were married (i.e. chastely) and expect to have some limited intercourse with your neighbours, though of course you would not be invited to events held in a church, or evening affairs. Financially secure women generally (I am not making this up) moved to Europe; Edith Wharton, who moved to Paris when she got divorced, wrote moving stories about the way divorced women were shunned at home. Men, meanwhile (who were usually the respondants) could expect to see more than half their assets and income settled on their spouse and children.
There were, critics observed, a number of unhappy marriages in which people stuck together. Young people, who shouldn't have gotten married; older people, whose spouses were not physically abusive nor absent, nor flagrantly adulterous, but whose spouse was, for reasons of financial irresponsibility, mental viciousness, or some other major flaw, destroying their life. Why not make divorce easier to get? Rather than requiring people to show that there was an unforgivable, physically visible, cause that the marriage should be dissolved, why not let people who wanted to get divorced agree to do so?
Because if you make divorce easier, said the critics, you will get much more of it, and divorce is bad for society.
That's ridiculous! said the reformers. (Can we sing it all together now?) People stay married because marriage is a bedrock institution of our society, not because of some law! The only people who get divorced will be people who have terrible problems! A few percentage points at most!
Oops. When the law changed, the institution changed. The marginal divorce made the next one easier. Again, the magnitude of the change swamped the dire predictions of the anti-reformist wing; no one could have imagined, in their wildest dreams, a day when half of all marriages ended in divorce.
There were actually two big changes; the first, when divorce laws were amended in most states to make it easier to get a divorce; and the second, when "no fault" divorce allowed one spouse to unilaterally end the marriage. The second change produced another huge surge in the divorce rate, and a nice decline in the incomes of divorced women; it seems advocates had failed to anticipate that removing the leverage of the financially weaker party to hold out for a good settlement would result in men keeping more of their earnings to themselves.
What's more, easy divorce didn't only change the divorce rate; it made drastic changes to the institution of marriage itself. David Brooks makes an argument I find convincing: that the proliferation of the kind of extravagent weddings that used to only be the province of high society (rented venue, extravagent flowers and food, hundreds of guests, a band with dancing, dresses that cost the same as a good used car) is because the event itself doesn't mean nearly as much as it used to, so we have to turn it into a three-ring circus to feel like we're really doing something.
A couple in 1940 (and even more so in 1910) could go to a minister's parlor, or a justice of the peace, and in five minutes totally change their lives. Unless you are a member of certain highly religious subcultures, this is simply no longer true. That is, of course, partly because of the sexual revolution and the emancipation of women; but it is also because you aren't really making a lifetime committment; you're making a lifetime committment unless you find something better to do. There is no way, psychologically, to make the latter as big an event as the former, and when you lost that committment, you lose, on the margin, some willingness to make the marriage work. Again, this doesn't mean I think divorce law should be toughened up; only that changes in law that affect marriage affect the cultural institution, not just the legal practice.
Three laws. Three well-meaning reformers who were genuinely, sincerely incapable of imagining that their changes would wreak such institutional havoc. Three sets of utterly logical and convincing, and wrong arguments about how people would behave after a major change.
So what does this mean? That we shouldn't enact gay marriage because of some sort of social Precautionary Principle
No. I have no such grand advice.
My only request is that people try to be a leeetle more humble about their ability to imagine the subtle results of big policy changes. The argument that gay marriage will not change the institution of marriage because you can't imagine it changing your personal reaction is pretty arrogant. It imagines, first of all, that your behavior is a guide for the behavior of everyone else in society, when in fact, as you may have noticed, all sorts of different people react to all sorts of different things in all sorts of different ways, which is why we have to have elections and stuff. And second, the unwavering belief that the only reason that marriage, always and everywhere, is a male-female institution (I exclude rare ritual behaviors), is just some sort of bizarre historical coincidence, and that you know better, needs examining. If you think you know why marriage is male-female, and why that's either outdated because of all the ways in which reproduction has lately changed, or was a bad reason to start with, then you are in a good place to advocate reform. If you think that marriage is just that way because our ancestors were all a bunch of repressed bastards with dark Freudian complexes that made them homophobic bigots, I'm a little leery of letting you muck around with it.
Is this post going to convince anyone? I doubt it; everyone but me seems to already know all the answers, so why listen to such a hedging, doubting bore? I myself am trying to draw a very fine line between being humble about making big changes to big social institutions, and telling people (which I am not trying to do) that they can't make those changes because other people have been wrong in the past. In the end, our judgement is all we have; everyone will have to rely on their judgement of whether gay marriage is, on net, a good or a bad idea. All I'm asking for is for people to think more deeply than a quick consultation of their imaginations to make that decision. I realise that this probably falls on the side of supporting the anti-gay-marriage forces, and I'm sorry, but I can't help that. This humility is what I want from liberals when approaching market changes; now I'm asking it from my side too, in approaching social ones. I think the approach is consistent, if not exactly popular.
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December 20, 2009


No binding carbon limits were agreed to at Copenhagen last week. The Guardian, which co-authored this prior to the event, declares it ended in failure. I would say it ended almost as good as one could hope. The only deal agreed to was to send $30,000,000,000 a year to "poor countries to adapt to climate change". This is most likely going to be a giant slush fund used by corrupt politicians in corrupt governments to line their pockets. But, it is better than agreeing to purposely reduce our standard of living so we more resemble these poor countries.

The true believers are sick at the result:
Lumumba Di-Aping, chief negotiator for the G77 group of 130 developing countries, said the deal had "the lowest level of ambition you can imagine. It's nothing short of climate change scepticism in action. It locks countries into a cycle of poverty for ever. Obama has eliminated any difference between him and Bush."
I am curious how whether I drive a Honda Civic or a Ford Mustang "locks countries into a cycle of poverty for ever".

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: "The city of Copenhagen is a crime scene tonight, with the guilty men and women fleeing to the airport. Ed Miliband [UK climate change secretary] is among the very few that come out of this summit with any credit." It is now evident that beating global warming will require a radically different model of politics than the one on display here in Copenhagen."
Environmentalist are going to try radical politics... gee, never seen that before. Maybe they will declare the world will end in a couple of years, or all life will become extinct, or millions of people are about to die if we don't do what they say... oh, they already do that.

Lydia Baker of Save the Children said world leaders had "effectively signed a death warrant for many of the world's poorest children. Up to 250,000 children from poor communities could die before the next major meeting in Mexico at the end of next year."
REALLY! So if the politicians had signed pieces of paper in Copenhagen, then 250,000 children would be alive next year, but because they didn't, those children are going to die! Amazing.

It will be a tragedy if we ever let these types of ignorant people control our lives, energy, money or choices.
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December 12, 2009


The following editorial was published in 56 newspapers around the world in 20 languages. Most papers placed the editorial on their front page. It is designed to scare, manipulate, and guilt us into giving up our freedoms to large international treaties. To reduce our standard of living and transfer our wealth to other countries. To submit ourselves to a single collective, where decisions are made for us by a central powerful group.

The Guardian:
Today 56 newspapers in 45 countries take the unprecedented step of speaking with one voice through a common editorial. We do so because humanity faces a profound emergency. Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security.
"Climate change" is not a danger. If we didn't have a changing climate we would all die. CO2 only causes warming. High concentrations of CO2 act to reflect radiation energy back onto earth causing a warming affect. CO2 does not cause climate change... only warming. Climate change is driven by the rotation of the earth, the revolution around the sun and the tilt of the earth, and the wind/water/evaporation/cloud patterns that result.
The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation. Now the facts have started to speak: 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is melting and last year’s inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc.
The 11 warmest years data is provided by The University of East Anglia. You can read about them here. How does last years high oil prices and food prices have anything to do with the weather?!
In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage. Yet so far the world’s response has been feeble and half-hearted.
The question has never been are humans to blame. It has always been, how much do they contribute, and how much impact do we really have, and is it possible to change anything without drastically increasing poverty. These questions are still very much in debate.
Climate change has been caused over centuries, has consequences that will endure for all time and our prospects of taming it will be determined in the next 14 days.
This is the most absurd sentence. We have 14 days to act or the planet is doomed for all time. Geesh.
We call on the representatives of the 192 countries gathered in Copenhagen not to hesitate, not to fall into dispute, not to blame each other but to seize opportunity from the greatest modern failure of politics. This should not be a fight between the rich world and the poor world, or between east and west. Climate change affects everyone, and must be solved by everyone. The science is complex but the facts are clear. The world needs to take steps to limit temperature rises to 2C, an aim that will require global emissions to peak and begin falling within the next 5-10 years. A bigger rise of 3-4C — the smallest increase we can prudently expect to follow inaction — would parch continents, turning farmland into desert. Half of all species could become extinct, untold millions of people would be displaced, whole nations drowned by the sea.
My goodness! How does anyone buy into this? 2 degrees hotter and we are all safe, but 3 or 4 and it's Armageddon. Allow me to let you in on a little secret... more CO2 and slightly warmer temps will cause all plants on earth to flourish. We will have record food supplies and prosperity. Going back through human history, warm periods equal prosperity, cold periods equal death. We are currently in the middle of a long term warm period between ice ages. Our entire human civilization has been built between ice ages.
The controversy over emails by British researchers that suggest they tried to suppress inconvenient data has muddied the waters but failed to dent the mass of evidence on which these predictions are based. Few believe that Copenhagen can any longer produce a fully polished treaty; real progress towards one could only begin with the arrival of President Obama in the White House and the reversal of years of US obstructionism. Even now the world finds itself at the mercy of American domestic politics, for the president cannot fully commit to the action required until the US Congress has done so. But the politicians in Copenhagen can and must agree the essential elements of a fair and effective deal and, crucially, a firm timetable for turning it into a treaty. Next June’s UN climate meeting in Bonn should be their deadline. As one negotiator put it: “We can go into extra time but we can’t afford a replay.”
I thought we only had 14 days? "Muddied the waters" is an interesting way to put the fact that the lead scientists that claim we are in danger have been hiding and deleting and manipulating data, burying scientists and scientific journals that don't agree, and are in bed with politicians and the media.
At the deal’s heart must be a settlement between the rich world and the developing world covering how the burden of fighting climate change will be divided — and how we will share a newly precious resource: the trillion or so tonnes of carbon that we can emit before the mercury rises to dangerous levels. Rich nations like to point to the arithmetic truth that there can be no solution until developing giants such as China take more radical steps than they have so far. But the rich world is responsible for most of the accumulated carbon in the atmosphere – three-quarters of all carbon dioxide emitted since 1850. It must now take a lead, and every developed country must commit to deep cuts which will reduce their emissions within a decade to very substantially less than their 1990 level.
The "rich" world is not responsible for 3/4th (75%) of all carbon dioxide emitted since 1850. This is completely false. Carbon dioxide is emitted by every living animal on the planet, bacteria to humans. It is also emitted by every decaying plant in the world, plankton to redwoods. It is also emitted by anything burning naturally around the world, deep coal seam fires of China to forest fires of America. It is also emitted by the 500 active volcanoes around the world. It is also emitted by the oceans as part of the carbon cycle. Human activities account for between 3 and 25% of emitted carbon. So the "rich" world is responsible for 2-20% of carbon dioxide emitted since 1850, not 75%. Also, water vapor is just as much a global warming gas as carbon dioxide. 99%+ of all water vapor emitted is natural and it is 50-100 times as concentrated in the atmosphere. So the "rich" countries have actually only emitted less than one-half of one percent of the earths global warming gasses!
Developing countries can point out they did not cause the bulk of the problem, and also that the poorest regions of the world will be hardest hit. But they will increasingly contribute to warming, and must thus pledge meaningful and quantifiable action of their own. Though both fell short of what some had hoped for, the recent commitments to emissions targets by the world’s biggest polluters, the United States and China, were important steps in the right direction.
"Developing countries" is a nice way to put the fact that billions of people are living in terrible poverty. Forcing these people to use expensive and unreliable sources of energy ensures they will remain in poverty. Access to cheap reliable energy is the driving force for the developed world's huge increase in standard of living over the last 200 years.
Social justice demands that the industrialised world digs deep into its pockets and pledges cash to help poorer countries adapt to climate change, and clean technologies to enable them to grow economically without growing their emissions.
The only affordable, reliable, abundant source of energy that doesn't grow carbon emissions is nuclear. Is the environmental movement going to embrace the widespread use of nuclear power? If so, I agree completely! It would be nice to hear some practical solutions instead of putting a solar panel on the roof of your hut.
The architecture of a future treaty must also be pinned down – with rigorous multilateral monitoring, fair rewards for protecting forests, and the credible assessment of “exported emissions” so that the burden can eventually be more equitably shared between those who produce polluting products and those who consume them. And fairness requires that the burden placed on individual developed countries should take into account their ability to bear it; for instance newer EU members, often much poorer than “old Europe”, must not suffer more than their richer partners.
This is the truly scary part of the global environmental movement. In order for it to work we must agree to binding international agreements with centralized power to monitor and enforce the agreements. Countries will be giving up the choices to develop industry and energy for its own people and handing that power over to a group of global politicians. Large centralized power will take money and resources from the "rich" countries and give it to the "poor" countries. As resources are strained there will be global rationing to keep everything in the proper limits.
The transformation will be costly, but many times less than the bill for bailing out global finance — and far less costly than the consequences of doing nothing. Many of us, particularly in the developed world, will have to change our lifestyles. The era of flights that cost less than the taxi ride to the airport is drawing to a close. We will have to shop, eat and travel more intelligently. We will have to pay more for our energy, and use less of it.
Certainly being energy efficient is a good thing. Being conscious of how much we use and not being wasteful is essential to being good stewards of our resources. But simply having expensive airfair or high gas prices or eating/shopping/traveling more "intelligently" will not impact global climate. If the doomsday scenarios are true, we would have to drastically reduce our carbon use. Forced brownouts/blackouts or massive increases in nuclear power, no/little use of the internal combustion engine, massive changes in what is available to buy and how we get it and make it, huge changes in farming and industry. Basically, we need to re-wind society back 150 years to where we have houses and running water but little else. And all of this will have questionable impact on the climate, if any.
But the shift to a low-carbon society holds out the prospect of more opportunity than sacrifice. Already some countries have recognized that embracing the transformation can bring growth, jobs and better quality lives. The flow of capital tells its own story: last year for the first time more was invested in renewable forms of energy than producing electricity from fossil fuels. Kicking our carbon habit within a few short decades will require a feat of engineering and innovation to match anything in our history. But whereas putting a man on the moon or splitting the atom were born of conflict and competition, the coming carbon race must be driven by a collaborative effort to achieve collective salvation.
Well, I certainly would love collective salvation... somehow I don't think it comes from solar power (although Ra, Apollo and Helios would approve). I don't know what countries the article is referring too that have more growth, more jobs, and a better quality of life by eliminating fossil fuels. To my knowledge there are none. Some countries (Spain) have mandated using less fossil fuels and more renewables, but they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars per "green job" and lose twice as many jobs as they create. And the overall carbon output of these countries hasn't decreased. Capitalism will drive innovation when it is necessary. As long as there are oceans of cheap, high energy oil under our feet, we will continue to use it. If that resource begins to disappear or become too expensive, we will find other ways to get our energy. Whatever source is cheapest and easiest will automatically be used. And as it is wealth and jobs will be created as they have throughout our history. This is a much better method than giving the power to politicians!
Overcoming climate change will take a triumph of optimism over pessimism, of vision over short-sightedness, of what Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature”. It is in that spirit that 56 newspapers from around the world have united behind this editorial. If we, with such different national and political perspectives, can agree on what must be done then surely our leaders can too. The politicians in Copenhagen have the power to shape history’s judgment on this generation: one that saw a challenge and rose to it, or one so stupid that we saw calamity coming but did nothing to avert it. We implore them to make the right choice.
I too implore them to make the right choice: Don't agree to reduce our access to cheap, reliable energy based on the over-hyped crisis of global warming.

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December 11, 2009


The majority of us are struggling through a recession. Over 7 million people have lost their jobs. Those of us who are still employed, have had their hours cut or their pay frozen or worse. Personally, I worked significantly more hours than normal on a standard salary and qualified for a substantial raise this year, but our company froze our pay so I received nothing.

There is one group of people who are doing substantially better however.... Federal workers. Federal workers have enjoyed more jobs and more money over the last 18 months. Those making over $100,000 has jumped from 14% to 19%. Federal workers had a 3% raise in 2008, a 3.9% raise in 2009, and a 2% raise in 2010. This in addition to the "steps" they move through automatically over time that average another 1.5% each year and new merit based raises in some departments that have been approved through 2012. All this has pushed the average Federal worker to $71,206 a year (this excludes the White House, Congress, Postal Service, intelligence agencies and uniformed military personnel).

In order to pay a Federal worker, the government must first collect taxes from those of us in the private sector. So while the private sector is losing jobs and money, the politicians are taking more of what we have left to give "their" employees more money.

Certainly, a number of Federal workers are necessary. But there are over 2 million people in this category, collecting something over $150 Billion dollars from taxpayers (excluding White House, Congress, PS, intelligence and military).

Are ALL of these really necessary?
Administration for Children and Families (ACF)
Administration for Native Americans
Administration on Aging (AoA)
Administration on Developmental Disabilities
Administrative Committee of the Federal Register
Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
African Development Foundation
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
Agency for International Development
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Agricultural Marketing Service
Agricultural Research Service
Agriculture Department (USDA)
Air Force
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Alaska Home Page
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Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Bureau (Justice)
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American Battle Monuments Commission
American Samoa Home Page
AMTRAK (National Railroad Passenger Corporation)
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Appalachian Regional Commission
Architect of the Capitol
Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board)
Archives (National Archives and Records Administration)
Arctic Research Commission
Arizona Home Page
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Armed Forces Retirement Home
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Army Corps of Engineers
Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Interagency Coordinating Committee
Atlantic Fleet Forces Command
Bankruptcy Courts
Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation
Bonneville Power Administration
Botanic Garden
Broadcasting Board of Governors (Voice of America, RadioTV Marti and more)
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (Justice)
Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade (Treasury)
Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (DHS)
Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)
Bureau of Industry and Security (formerly the Bureau of Export Administration)
Bureau of International Labor Affairs
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Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board
Chief Acquisition Officers Council
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Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled
Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements
Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States
Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS)
Community Planning and Development
Comptroller of the Currency Office
Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US CERT)
Congressional Budget Office (CBO)
Congressional Research Service
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Constitution Center
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Copyright Office
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Corps of Engineers
Council of Economic Advisers
Council on Environmental Quality
County and City Governments
Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
Court of Federal Claims
Court of International Trade
Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia
Customs and Border Protection
Defense Acquisition University
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English Language Acquisition Office
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Environmental Management (Energy Department)
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
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Farm Service Agency
Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board
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Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
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Federal Consulting Group
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Federal Maritime Commission
Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service
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Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
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Financial Management Service (Treasury Department)
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Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation
Hawaii Home Page
Hawaii State, County and City Websites
Health and Human Services Department (HHS)
Health Resources and Services Administration
Helsinki Commission (Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe)
Holocaust Memorial Museum
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House Leadership Offices
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Housing Office (HUD)
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Indian Affairs, Bureau of
Indiana Home Page
Indian Arts and Crafts Board
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Indian Health Service
Industrial College of the Armed Forces
Industry and Security, Bureau of (formerly the Bureau of Export Administration)
Information Resource Management College
Innovation and Improvement Office
Institute of Education Sciences
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Institute of Peace
Interagency Alternative Dispute Resolution Working Group
Interagency Council on Homelessness
Inter-American Foundation
Interior Department
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB)
International Labor Affairs, Bureau of
International Trade Administration (ITA)
International Trade Commission
Iowa Home Page
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James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation
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Joint Fire Science Program
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Joint Military Intelligence College
Judicial Circuit Courts of Appeal, by Geographic Location and Circuit
Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation
Justice Department
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Justice Statistics, Bureau of
Kansas Home Page
Kansas State, County and City Websites
Kentucky Home Page
Kentucky State, County and City Websites
Labor Department (DOL)
Labor Statistics, Bureau of
Land Management, Bureau of
Lead Hazard Control (Housing and Urban Development Department)
Legal Services Corporation
Library of Congress
Local Governments
Louisiana Home Page
Louisiana State, County and City Websites
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Marshals Service
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Medicare Payment Advisory Commission
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Migratory Bird Conservation Commission
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Millennium Challenge Corporation
Minerals Management Service
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Minority Business Development Agency
Mint (Treasury Department)
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Mississippi River Commission
Mississippi State, County and City Websites
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Missouri State, County and City Websites
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Morris K. Udall Foundation: Scholarship and Excellence in National Environmental Policy
Multifamily Housing Office
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
National Agricultural Statistics Service
National AIDS Policy Office
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare
National Capital Planning Commission
National Cemetery Administration (Veterans Affairs Department)
National Constitution Center
National Council on Disability
National Counterintelligence Executive, Office of
National Credit Union Administration
National Defense University
National Drug Intelligence Center
National Economic Council
National Endowment for the Arts
National Endowment for the Humanities
National Gallery of Art
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
National Guard
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
National Indian Gaming Commission
National Institute for Literacy
National Institute of Justice
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
National Interagency Fire Center
National Laboratories (Energy Department)
National Labor Relations Board
National Marine Fisheries
National Mediation Board
National Nuclear Security Administration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
National Ocean Service
National Park Foundation
National Park Service
National Railroad Passenger Corporation (AMTRAK)
National Reconnaissance Office
National Science Foundation
National Security Agency (NSA)
National Security Council
National Technical Information Service
National Telecommunications and Information Administration
National Transportation Safety Board
National War College
National Weather Service
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Northwest Power Planning Council
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Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)
Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
Office of Compliance
Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight
Office of Government Ethics
Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)
Office of Personnel Management
Office of Refugee Resettlement
Office of Science and Technology Policy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information
Office of Special Counsel
Office of Thrift Supervision
Ohio Home Page
Ohio State, County and City Websites
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Pacific Command
Pardon Attorney Office
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Patent and Trademark Office
Peace Corps
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Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration (now the Employee Benefits Security Administration)
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
Pentagon Force Protection Agency
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
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Political Affairs (State Department)
Postal Regulatory Commission
Postal Service (USPS)
Postsecondary Education
Power Administrations
Presidio Trust
Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office
Program Executive Office, Ships
Public and Indian Housing
Public Debt, Bureau of
Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (State Department)
Puerto Rico Home Page Radio and TV Marti (EspaƱol)
Radio Free Asia (RFA)
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)
Railroad Retirement Board
Reclamation, Bureau of
Refugee Resettlement
Regulatory Information Service Center
Rehabilitation Services Administration (Education Department)
Research, Education and Economics (Agriculture Department)
Research and Innovative Technology Administration (Transportation Department)
Rhode Island Home Page
Rhode Island State, County and City Websites
Risk Management Agency (Agriculture Department)
Rural Business-Cooperative Service
Rural Development
Rural Housing Service
Rural Utilities ServiceSaint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation
Science Office (Energy Department)
Secret Service
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
Selective Service System
Senate Committees
Senate Leadership
Senators on the Web
Small Business Administration (SBA)
Smithsonian Institution
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Southeastern Power Administration
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Stennis Center for Public Service
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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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Territories of the United States
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Transportation Command
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U.S. Capitol Visitor Center
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
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U.S. International Trade Commission
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U.S. National Central Bureau - Interpol (Justice Department)
U.S. Postal Service (USPS)
U.S. Sentencing Commission
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December 10, 2009


Taken from ("Engineer" changed from "Scientist")


As the central government continues to take control of more and more pieces of society, it is important to remember why the United States of America is different from other countries around the world. That difference has made us the most free and privileged societies the world has ever known. That difference is written into the foundation of our republic, the PEOPLE have the power, not the government:

Declaration of Independence of the United States of America
governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

Constitution of the State of Texas

All political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their benefit. The faith of the people of Texas stands pledged to the preservation of a republican form of government, and, subject to this limitation only, they have at all times the inalienable right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think expedient.

Constitution of the State of Virginia
That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, or community; of all the various modes and forms of government, that is best which is capable of producing the greatest degree of happiness and safety, and is most effectually secured against the danger of maladministration; and, whenever any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, a majority of the community hath an indubitable, inalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal.

Constitution of the State South Carolina
All political power is vested in and derived from the people only, therefore, they have the right at all times to modify their form of government

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December 5, 2009


Around November 16, 2009 an unknown individual hacked into the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU). The hacker copied e-mails, documents, data, and pictures and published them on the internet. The result has been an explosive story bringing into question the science behind man-made global warming. Some say it proves AGW is a fraud, others say it is no big deal, but Phil Jones, the director of the CRU has resigned over the controversy. I have downloaded all the material and will give a few examples.

The stolen documents seem to show an ongoing attempt to hide data, alter data analysis to get desired results and shut down critical papers and scientists:

Item 1 (email 1256765544)
Phil Jones complains about a professor Dr Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen who is critical of his research and data. He asks a professor, Graham Haughton, at Hull University if he can keep her from using her Hull affiliation title now that she is retired. Graham says no, but now that she is gone he is "a lot more free to push my environmental interests without ongoing critique...I've signed my department up to 10:10 campaign and have a taskforce of staff and students involved in it".

Item 2 (email 1047388489)
Michael Mann proposes to Phil Jones a way to shut down a scientific journal "Climate Research" that is publishing peer-reviewed papers skeptical of AGW. "What do we do about this? I think we have to stop considering "climate Research" as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to , or cite papers in, this journal."
Phil Jones then emails "I will be emailing the journal to tell them I'm having nothing more to do with it until they rid themselves of this troublesome editor."

Item 3 (email 0939154709)
Tim Osborn sends data to Mike Mann. He discusses various ways to manipulate the data to make the recent decline in the data less obvious. They assume the recent decline in the data is caused by non-temperature signals. "We usually stop the series in 1960 because of the recent non-temperature signal that is superimposed on the tree-ring data" "One could, of course, shift the mean of our reconstruction so that it matched the observed series over a different period - say 1931-60 - but I don't see that this improves things. Indeed, if the non-temperature signal that causes the decline in tree-ring density begins before 1960, then a short 1931-60 period might yield a more biased result than using a longer 1881-1960 period."

Item 4 (email 1212063122)
Michael Mann emails everyone to delete any emails they have had dealing with Freedom of Information requests they have received. "Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith will do likewise. Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same? We will be getting Caspar to do likewise."

Item 5 (email 0942777075)
Phil Jones comments on his data manipulation to make more alarming warming graphs.
"I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline. Mike's series got the annual land and marine values while the other two got April-Sept for NH land N of 20N. The latter two are real for 1999, while the estimate for 1999 for NH combined is +0.44C wrt 61-90. The Global estimate for 1999 with data through Oct is +0.35C cf. 0.57 for 1998."

Item 6 (email 1255352257)
Several scientist were discussing the extremely cold October we had this year (I wrote about it earlier) and the fact that there has been no warming over the last decade. They are all dismayed that the BBC has done a story about the lack of warming. "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't." "It is extremely disappointing to see something like this appear on BBC. its particularly odd, since climate is usually Richard Black's beat at BBC (and he does a great job)."
So, according to the scientists, if we have hot weather the media should be trumpeting it as global warming, but if it is cold it should be ignored.

Item 7 (email 1054736277)
Scientists discuss how nice it would be to eliminate the Medieval Warm Period (MWP). "I think that trying to adopt a timeframe of 2[000 years], rather than the usual 1[000 years], addresses a good earlier point that Peck made w/ regard to the memo, that it would be nice to try to "contain" the putative "MWP", even if we don't yet have a hemispheric mean reconstruction available that far back"

Item 8 (email 1255523796)
In response to Item 6 above, Tom disagrees and says he has two methods to work with the data to show the cooling. Kevin replies "How come you do not agree with a statement that says we are no where close to knowing where energy is going or whether clouds are changing to make the planet brighter? We are not close to balancing the energy budget. The fact that we can not account for what is happening in the climate system makes any consideration of geoengineering quite hopeless as we will never be able to tell if it is successful or not!"

Item 9 (email 1139521913)
After a skeptic article came out in Science magazine, Michael Mann explains how he will manipulate comments on the Real Climate website so skeptics can't use it to promote the article. "We can hold comments up in the queue and contact you about whether or not you think they should be screened through or not, and if so, any comments you'd like us to include."

Item 10 (email 1106322460)
Tom Wigley had some resistance publishing a paper of his about glaciers in GRL. He and Mann thought the GRL editor-in-chief James Saiers may be a skeptic. He writes to Mann "If you think that Saiers is in the greenhouse skeptics camp, then, if we can find documentary evidence of this, we could go through official AGU channels to get him ousted. "

There is much much more... including:
- Briffa saying there is political pressure to produce a graph showing unprecedented warming (email 0938018124)
- Climate organisations are coordinating to resist freedom of information requests (email 1219239172)
- Revkin and Von Storch say they should toss the hockey stick chart back in 2004, this is 2 years before Al Gore used the chart in his "documentary" (email 1096382684)
- Funkhouser says he's used every trick up his sleeve to milk his Kyrgistan series. He doesn't think it's productive to juggle the statistics any more than he has.(email 0843161829)
-Wigley discusses fixing an issue with sea surface temperatures in the context of making the results look both warmer but still plausible. (email 1254108338)
-David Parker discussing the possibility of changing the reference period for global temperature index. Thinks this shouldn't be done because it confuses people and because it will make things look less warm.(emial 1105019698)
-Jones tells Mann that he is sending station data. Says that if McIntyre requests it under FoI he will delete it rather than hand it over. Says he will hide behind data protection laws. (email 1107454306)

Countries around the world are debating carbon taxes and cap-and-trade programs to stop global warming including the US. The British people have already paid billions in carbon taxes, and Spain has invested billions also. Politicians are creating hundreds of new laws and regulations in the name of saving the planet. If this huge cost and invasion of rights is to continue, the science behind the catastrophe should be sound! We should know exactly what the costs to us will be, both monetarily and in standard of living, and what effect it will have on cooling the planet. If cap-and-trade is a huge cost with little or no impact on climate, then why are we even having the debate? Anyone suggesting it should be laughed (and voted) out of office. On the other hand, if we are in certain doom if even one more SUV is built, than we must do what is necessary to survive. I don't think the doom has been proven yet though!

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